Two school days skipped in strike must be made up

2011-09-13T04:15:00Z 2011-09-14T21:34:37Z Two school days skipped in strike must be made upBy Nick Gevock of The Montana Standard Montana Standard
September 13, 2011 4:15 am  • 

The two school days missed last week due to a Butte schools administrators strike will have to be made up this year so that students receive the required amount of instruction time. 

"They have a requirement of how many hours they have to fulfill," said Allyson Hagen, spokeswoman for the Montana Office of Public Instruction.

Fifteen Butte principals, assistant principals and directors in the Teamsters Union last week went on strike to protest the raises offered by the school board. The dispute is over a 1 percent difference that administrators are asking for in their "experience factor," which is calculated based on years of service to the district.

The board offered a 2 percent base pay raise in addition to the guaranteed raises administrators have in their contract. The district's offer would give every administrator a minimum 4.4 percent salary boost this year.

But the administrators want a 4 percent experience factor and offered to take 1 percent base pay raise. The board said last week that would cost the district an additional $118,000 over five years and rejected the proposal. The administrators went on strike beginning Wednesday.

Teachers, maintenance workers and other staff honored the strike and school was called off for two days.

But on Friday, District Judge Brad Newman issued a temporary order that restrains administrators from striking. The ruling came after parents filed suit in district court against the unions to force an end to the strike. Parents who said their children would suffer irreparable harm by missing out on sports and academic events filed the lawsuit.

Newman set a Friday hearing to determine whether his temporary order will become permanent.

The two sides are trying to schedule a mediation session this week, said Pat Fleming, a Butte lawyer representing the board.

State law requires that students receive 1,080 hours of classroom instruction. But Hagen said how that requirement is met is left up to individual districts.

And many have built in days throughout the academic calendar to account for snow days.

"How they chose to make that up is the school district's call," she said.

Superintendent Linda Reksten said picking the dates to make up the lost instruction time falls on a calendar committee that includes board members and teachers.

"We'll have to meet with the teachers' union in order to work out those days," she said. "It might mean taking a day less for Christmas and or spring break so we can end the same day, but that's up to the committee."

- Reporter Nick Gevock may be reached at nick.


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